Max Verstappen, F3, Van Amersfoort, Red Bull Ring, 2014

Max Verstappen to become youngest ever F1 driver with Toro Rosso in 2015

2015 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Max Verstappen, the 16-year-old Formula Three driver and son of former F1 racer Jos Verstappen, will make his Formula One debut for Toro Rosso next year.

Max Verstappen, F3, Van Amersfoort, Red Bull Ring, 2014The team has confirmed Verstappen will drive for them next year alongside Daniil Kvyat, replacing Jean-Eric Vergne.

Verstappen, who was signed to Red Bull junior programme last year, is currently in his first year driving single seaters having graduated from kart racing. He will be 17 when he makes his F1 debut, making him the youngest driver to compete in the world championship.

His rapid promotion to their Formula One programme moves him past the three other drivers on Red Bull’s young driver programme: Formula Renault 3.5 points leader Carlos Sainz Jnr, GP3 points leader Alex Lynn, and Pierre Gasly, currently third in Formula Renault 3.5.

Despite Verstappen’s lack of experience, Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost says Red Bull “consider Max to be as one of the most skilled young drivers of the new generation and we believe he has the necessary maturity and mental strength to take on this challenge successfully”.

“Bearing in mind that Scuderia Toro Rosso was created with the aim of bringing young talent from the Red Bull Junior Team into Formula One and to educate them,” Tost added, “it will now be up to us to provide Max with a competitive car, which will enable him to have the best possible start to his Formula One career”.

Tost added his thanks to Vergne, who will leave the team after his third year in F1. “He has produced strong performances, but unfortunately he was also hindered by some reliability problems, especially in the first half of the current season.”

“We hope that we have resolved these problems and that he will be able to end the second half of this season on a high note and thereby show that he still deserves another opportunity in Formula One.”

Max Verstappen, F3, Van Amersfoort, Red Bull Ring, 2014Verstappen said: “First of all I would like to thank Dr Helmut Marko and Red Bull for all their trust and giving me the chance to make my Formula debut in 2015 with Scuderia Toro Rosso,” he said. “Ever since I was seven years old, Formula One has been my career goal, so this opportunity is truly a dream come true.”

“There are several people that have helped me throughout the years and still support me to this day and I want to sincerely thank them. First of all a big thanks to my father Jos, who has always been by my side, day and night, year after year.

“Of course I’m very thankful for all my sponsors who’ve believed in my talent and supported me in these financially difficult times. I hope that I can maintain a wonderful collaboration with them as I embark on this exciting new phase in my career. I also want to thank my manager Raymond Vermeulen, for all his efforts in making this agreement possible.

“Finally, thanks to all the teams in the various karting and single-seater categories for their vital help and support. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

“We’ve all worked tremendously hard to reach Formula 1 and I will give my absolute best to be successful in the pinnacle of motorsport. With the return of the Verstappen name to Formula One, I hope we can relive old memories and I’m hoping to see many fans at all the grand prix circuits.”

Verstappen is poised to emulate his father by making a very early Formula One debut. Jos Verstappen had started 52 single-seater races when he started his first grand prix at Brazil in 1994. Max has competed in 40 races since graduating from karts last year.

See the updated list of 2015 F1 drivers and teams

In the video above Verstappen was speaking after joining Red Bull’s driver programme but before his F1 drive was announced.

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Images © FIA F3

183 comments on “Max Verstappen to become youngest ever F1 driver with Toro Rosso in 2015”

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  1. Here’s a thought – when Jos last raced in Formula 1, he was competing alongside Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button and Kimi Raikkonen. Max will most likely do the same next year. Would that be the first time a driver has competed against the same Formula 1 drivers as his father/?

    1. Now that would be an interesting stat!

    2. I don’t know if there were more but I certainly know that Mario Andretti raced against Riccardo Patrese in 1978-1982, and his son Michael raced for McLaren in 1993 also against Patrese, who drove his last season in F1 for Benetton.

    3. No, it wouldn’t be the first time.
      Mario and Michael Andretti both raced Prost and Alboreto.
      Satoru and Kazuki Nakajima both raced Schumacher.

      The Piquets have come close to achieving this. But Schumacher, having raced Piquet, was retired when Piquet Jr was active in F1, and Piquet Jr had dropped out by he time Schumacher came back.

      1. Meanwhile, in the Indy 500, Jacques Villeneuve’s raced against 3 generations of Andrettis…

      2. Mr win or lose
        18th August 2014, 22:30

        Not true. Kazuki Nakajima only raced in 2007-2009, while Schumacher “retired” in 2006 and made his comeback in 2010. Kazuki did race Ralf Schumacher in Brazil 2007.

      3. You’re totally right about Mario and Michael Andretti, but only Saturo Nakajima raced Schumacher. Kazuki drove in F1 from 2007 untill 2009. Just when Schumacher had his break from F1.

        1. Yup, you guys are right. Funny how I managed to take Schumacher’ss break into account for the Piquets, but failed to do the same for the Nakajimas :)

  2. As the saying goes: if you’re good enough you’re old enough. What an exciting young team Toro Rosso will have, and there’ll be more pressure on Kvyat being the senior driver (it’s mad to be saying that at 20). It is a gamble though.

    I hope Vergne manages to find a seat elsewhere, he’s definitely earnt a future in F1. I also expect Caterham to field at least one Red Bull junior in the near future. Sainz might get his chance there. Lynn and Gasly will have to wait or perhaps leave the Red Bull family.

    1. Kvyat the senior driver, what a joke

      Well, this seems appropriate …

      1. Oops, wanted to post :P

  3. I think he is way to young for F1.

    Happy for Kvyat though.

  4. Alright, let’s get the bias out of the way: I’m Dutch and I’ve followed his progress since the beginning of 2013. Just six weeks ago, I saw him win the Zandvoort Masters, so yeah, I’m a bit of a fan.

    However, I think this is a mistake. He is very mature for his age, but he is simply not experienced enough to adapt to Formula 1 quickly enough. I’m afraid that by the time he’s up to speed with his team mate (Kvyat or whoever will be driving there in 2016), Red Bull has already given up on him. So it’s definitely a questionable move from the Verstappens.

    For Red Bull, it’s a gamble. On one hand, they probably didn’t want to lose Verstappen to Mercedes, so they kinda one-upped each other until Marko offered him a seat at Toro Rosso, I suppose. On the other hand, if driver weight is becoming ever more important, they probably want to see what a not yet full-grown teenager could do in Formula 1.

    It’s a massive shame for Red Bull’s other talents: Sainz looked pretty much certain to get that second seat at Toro Rosso until Verstappen came along. It’s a big blow for Gasly and Lynn too. The Red Bull Junior Team is harsh.

    But this is great news for F1 in Holland. At the moment F1 is behind the pay-wall, but RTL 7 (free-to-air F1 broadcaster until 2012) is already broadcasting one F3 race live, simply because Verstappen is doing so well. They may buy the F1 rights for 2015, which would be fantastic. The motorsport culture in Holland is pretty much on a respirator, so this could really be a turn-around.

    1. @andae23 I also think it is a gamble. Verstappen is exceptionally talented but he “graduated” from karting less than a year ago and he is still going to be two years younger than Jaime Alguersuari, who is currently the youngest Formula One driver ever. I also had my doubts about Daniil Kvyat and he has been doing well but now Dr. Marko has taken the Red Bull driver development program to new extremes. I wonder if the success stories of Vettel, Ricciardo and Kvyat (so far) have encouraged him to take even more risks.

      It does not look like Red Bull Racing will need to replace both of their drivers during the next few years. It means that only one of the youngsters, either Kvyat or Verstappen, is likely to be promoted and Kvyat is on the “pole position” at the moment. For sure, there are always other teams but so far Red Bull Junior Team drivers have not been popular with the other teams as only Liuzzi has been able to find another team after leaving the Red Bull empire.

      Other than that, I’m happy for Dutch F1 fans, congratulations :)

  5. First of all, I’ll admit that whatever I’m writing here will go out the window the moment I see the Verstappen name on an F1 car again and especially when I run to the nearest PC to check on his FP times at Melbourne next year.

    But this isn’t good. Max has proven himself to be a very fast driver and a very fast learner. However, he’s made plenty of mistakes and frankly could do very well with a year of FR3.5 or GP2 to get used to being in the spotlight, a more technical car and, frankly, learn to deal with more technical failures and drivers crashing into him. Not all drivers will react to some of his risky overtakes as Fuoco has.

    Most of all I’m surprised by Jos. He’s been very vocal about his own F1 debut, saying it ‘sort of’ came too early and how he went backwards in his career. With Max making his debut at Toro Rosso, he probably won’t go backwards soon (rather straight out of F1 if he doesn’t perform) but he’s being thrown a lot further off the deep end than Jos ever was.

    I just hope, as a fan of his father, I won’t have to mourn another ‘would be’ Verstappen in 10 (or rather, 11) years time. At least there are no more gravel traps for the Dutch media to make jokes about..

    1. @npf1 I think as soon as Verstappen joined the Red Bull junior programme elder Verstappen had nothing to say anymore.

      1. @xtwl I see Vermeulen’s hand in this mostly, he’d probably be the one to talk the Verstappens into ‘you know what would be a great deal? Getting into F1 next year!’. After all, he studied under Rothengatther, Jos’ manager, who managed to mess up any dealings with Eddie Jordan (probably Jos’ biggest fan on the paddock at the time) ad infinitum…

    2. As you say, especially Jos knows what happens when you enter F1 without being well prepared.
      He got half a chance in his first season when he wasn’t physically ready.
      My guess was 2015 GP2 or FR3.5 and 2016 F1.
      Than I read this interview:

      Some critics will suggest a year or two in GP2 or FR 3.5 would ease Max into F1 as the lap times between GP2 and Formula 1 don’t differ that much. Jos disagrees. “Plenty of drivers didn’t make it through GP2 so after carefully deliberating with Max, Raymond and Red Bull, we came to the conclusion that F1 is the best option for Max.”

      From now on, it is all about Max’ preparation ahead of the 2015 season. Jos explains the vital points junior needs to work on: “He has to put in plenty off miles in faster cars, he has to become physically stronger and practice in the simulator. At Toro Rosso, he has to become an integral part of the team and get the right feel for what’s going on. Instead of working with five people, he’ll have to get used to working with fifty”, explains Jos.

      I understand his reasoning.
      They only thing I’m worried about now is Max getting too tall, look at this picture:
      Jos is 1.75

      (btw MVerstappen is my real name, now just waiting for the merchandise with my own name on it ;) )

  6. 16 years ago, Magnussen was replaced by Verstappen in Stewart. And now both their sons are racing in F1. And both fathers are just over 40 years old. Insane.

    1. And also, both of their fathers were very hot prospects when they arrived in F1, but never made it in F1. Although Jos has had a bit more success than Jan.

      And another fact. Jos debuted in 1994, a year later in 1995. Kevin made his debut this year, and Max a year later in 2015.

      Finally Jan and Kevin Magnussen both drove for the same team (McLaren) and now Max debutes with effectively the same team as Jos Verstappen drove for (Minardi/ Toro Rosso).

  7. @keithcollantine

    Tost added his thanks to Verstappen, who will leave the team after his third year in F1.

    I know STR are impatient with their drivers, but bloody hell..! :)

  8. This kid is special.

    Jos was good and the boy’s beat guys like Trulli in a kart
    Max has has been a meteor in racing since the age of 7.
    Watch 2015!

  9. He has been something special to watch in F3 – really exciting & I can’t wait to see him in F1. Surprising that it has happened so soon though – I suppose the RedBull program has nothing to lose and everything to gain, however Max could find his career hits the buffers very quickly if it all goes belly up…

  10. His age wouldn’t be such a big deal if drivers could actually get hundreds if not thousands of testing miles in an F1. I can’t think of a sport where the players are not encouraged to practice as much as possible…. sports are one of the proofs of “practice makes perfect”.

  11. I still think this is a year too early, but I’m very excited about this (as a Dutchman, but also in general after viewing his F3 races). Just imagine the kind of records he may set. For example, having made 50 race starts before his 20th birthday could be possible. I think that if he lives up to his potential the first year, the records are going to stand for many many years.

  12. People are criticizing Max because he is young… just like everyone did with guys like Raikkonen, Hamilton, Vettel and Kvyat. I’ll wait to see him in Melbourne before passing judgement, thank you.

    1. @austus: I haven’t seen anyone criticise Max directly, but a lot of people are concerned that he doesn’t have enough experience to thrive in F1 yet. We have to hope that Red Bull and the Verstappens know what they’re doing.

      And how about the people who thought that Grosjean and Alguersuari started F1 too early?

  13. Wow, when I heard the rumors I took it with a huge pinch of salt. It’s exciting though, this’ll do a lot for the popularity of Formula 1 in the Netherlands, and I really hope he’ll be successful in F1!

    It’s quite early, and time will tell whether he’ll be ready. I think he’ll be fine. People were quite vocal about Kvyat when he entered Formula 1, and he’s been doing quite well. I think Red Bull has quite a good sense of what he can do, and they must think a lot of him if they skip him ahead of their other young drivers. Like someone said earlier, if you’re good enough, you’re old enough.

  14. Just texted my father. We’ll be at Spa next year wearing Torro Rosso caps.

  15. I have no idea what to make of this. I guess if he really is good enough, then there shouldn’t be a problem. However I just can’t get over the fact that he’ll be 17 during his debut. I suppose the fact that we’ve never seen a driver under 19 in Formula One creates a fear of the unknown factor for many. Hopefully this won’t be a case of too much, too young.

    1. 10 domestic championships in Belgium and the Netherlands
      3 Euro Series, 1 World Series and 1 Master Series title
      2 European Championships, 1 World Championship
      11 Wins in the F3 Euro Series in his first season of carracing
      Won the Masters of Formula 3
      16 years old…..

      I mean…..good lord this kid is not just good. He’s freaking insane! I too worry it’s too early though. It would be a shame if a talent like this goes to waste by pushing him too soon too fast. If things go right though, this kid has ‘superstar’ potential, no doubt.

      1. * 8 wins in the Euro Series, 1 in the masters and 2 in the Florida winter series

  16. Not surprising as many think, Toro Rosso/Red Bull has always been the benchmark for the youngest drivers to make their way into F1. Algusersuari stepped up from Formula Renault for the sacked Bourdais during the middle half of the 2009 season and eventually settled in, going on to have another two solid seasons for the team despite being sacked as well. The most recent case study is Kvyat, who’s had a smooth transition despite the jump from GP3, so there’s history of Red Bull succeeding in managing the drivers in the pressure and transitional aspects. Verstappen himself must’ve dealt with some form of significant pressure having taken six wins in his first season in single-seaters, under 12 months after racing in go-karts. It’s the pinnacle of Motorsport yes, but with half of the Motorsport season to go, it’s a no brainer to get experience with F1 machinery during the remaining practice sessions and the in-season test at Abu Dhabi, thus it being very wise for Red Bull to confirm him for next season during the summer rather than after this season and whatever pressure Verstappen is feeling now should be eased by the timing of the announcement.

    1. Small correction: Verstappen is on 8 wins for the current F3 season and has won in the Florida Winter Series as well.

  17. Very interesting. I do hope however that Sainz is offered a F1 seat next year as well. He deserves it.

    1. He totally does. Rumors are that the team wants to buy him a Caterham seat.
      As for Caterham, we don’t yet know or the team will exist in 2015…

  18. Since everyone is having a go at f1, can I also have a turn, I drove a kart last week too.

  19. Just another thought to add to the pile, why does Verstappen get in the STR before Sainz? Sainz is impressing aswell in his category and drives very mature. Put Verstappen in his seat and let Sainz have a go, if he disappoints there is always 2016…

    1. @xtwl
      Exactly, Sainz has the experience to transition into F1 while Max is going to have to learn as he goes. From what I’ve seen of him in F3 he looks fast but erratic while Sainz already looks like an F1 driver. I expect a lot of bent purple cars next year, and a lot of angry drivers.

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